Principle of Assessment & Evaluation
Set clear, measurable goals before you begin designing your meeting so that afterwards, you can determine ROI. Without objectives, you simply cannot determine ROI. Assessment and evaluation are like bookends that give meaning to all the other meeting elements. Without them, meeting elements risk becoming mere decoration.
Examples: Pre-event surveys that identify stakeholder needs, onsite focus groups for feedback on products or services, post- event follow-up to determine application of learning to the workplace.
Principle of Meaningful Engagement
Meetings are about connecting with other human beings, physically, intellectually, but especially on an emotional level. Emotionally engaged people perform better and are more satisfied with their jobs, among other benefits. More often than not, meetings are impersonal affairs where strangers are thrown together and left to fend for themselves. And that’s tragic because we are social beings who need each other. Especially in times like these when we’re facing such serious challenges.
Examples: Networking opportunities that facilitate interaction between like- minded individuals, story-based formats for educational sessions that are easier for individuals to relate to and apply to their jobs.
Principle of Distributed Learning
The top two reasons people attend meetings and events are the educational programs and the networking, know as formal and informal learning, respectively. Informal learning trumps formal learning when it comes to two important criteria: knowledge retention and transfer. This is really what it’s all about. If you are not retaining information you learn in sessions and applying it back to your job, you are literally wasting your time. This principle is all about providing people the information they need to know, when they need to know it, in a manner that’s most convenient for them.
Examples: Pre-event webinars with subject matter experts to customize presentations, a virtual component for remote attendees, continuing conversations via social media platforms post event, informal learning experiences that allow for peer-to-peer education.
Principle of Collaboration
A key reasons people meet is to address some goal, challenge, or problem. In that pursuit, the wisdom of the crowd is an invaluable resource. This principle is about tapping into the collective intelligence of the group. We can design meetings to better understand needs, generate ideas, determine the best solutions, and put plans into action. Inherent in every meeting, is the opportunity for change, progress, and innovation. Meetings typically reflect what is, but they should be more about what’s possible.
Examples: Meeting-wide brainstorm sessions around key goals or challenges, large-scale advocacy campaigns around initiatives that align with an organization’s mission.
Principle of Experience
This is about designing a meeting with the end user – the attendee – in mind. Not just selling them a product, or providing them a service, but creating a more meaningful and memorable experience. If you look at what’s being measured, meetings are designed for the benefit of the meeting professional, not the attendee. The world is awash in bad design. Meetings are no exception. Some of the most common complaints about meetings are that they’re boring, a waste of time, or (the kiss of death) not relevant!
From a design perspective, meetings are produced, marketed, sold and consumed like products. Like many products, they have become stale and outdated over time. Meeting professionals need to think more like experience designers. They need to leverage every single meeting element that goes into planning a meeting and throw in a few new ones for good measure.
Examples: Hold welcome receptions in the registration area to create a great first impression, introduce experiential learning sessions using offsite venues.